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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Janet Robbins

Song of the Gypsy Tree

Review by Gary Hill

Ambient music is the basic concept here. Comparisons to Tori Amos are valid in terms of the vocals and somewhat in terms of the music, too. This is more progressive rock oriented than a lot of Tori Amos’ work, though. If there’s a question with including it in the progressive rock section, it’s because the “rock” part is missing. Still, this combines ambient sounds, world music textures and jazz into a sound that makes for an interesting and quite intriguing album. It’s definitely sedate, but also complex and quite entertaining.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
As In Winter

Keyboards and vocals create the main song elements here. This is dramatic and powerful. It’s moody and pretty. It’s slow moving and rather dark, but also very cool. Around the two and a half minute mark it powers out into a more rocking tune. The vocals here are quite like something from Tori Amos and the music has a real world music meets progressive rock and classical kind of texture. Percussion dominates for a while later and then symphonic elements are heard over the top of chanting type vocals. Atmospheric progressive rock motifs take over for a while later. Then it moves out to a piano dominated movement from there.

November
Ambient textures and sound effects hold the first couple minutes of this piece. It works out to a piano based ballad approach from there. The vocals are sultry and jazz-like, but still feel a lot like Tori Amos. The cut continues with some whispered vocals over the top of less cohesive piano work. It’s exploratory, mellow and dramatic.
Sparks
While this track has its own identity, as it begins it’s not that far removed from the type of material we’ve heard previously. We get some pounding in the background as this builds upwards. It’s got an open, but rather complex arrangement. There are varying sections and movements here, but overall it’s essentially sedate and atmospheric.
Song of the Gypsy Tree
In some ways this arrangement feels like both more jazz-oriented and more classical in nature. It’s got an open, moving song structure that feels more like a “song.”
Egypt
With more of a sparse arrangement, the rhythm section plays a fairly large role on this number. It really does feel like a more proggy version of the kind of music Tori Amos often performs. The arrangement on this is more constant than some of the other pieces, but there is still plenty of diversity here. It works out to almost an electronic or house kind of sound later.
Slowly
The emphasis early on sits with the pounding rhythmic structure. Instrumentation builds melody on top of that later. The track continues to build and grow and moves out to a faster paced section later that combines movie like mystery with jazz and RIO.
The Meaning
This basically continues the ambient prog stylings of the rest of the disc, but takes it in new directions, too. It’s a cool tune that has some jazzy sections and a lot of intriguing oddities.
Evermore
More ambient music makes the backdrop for this cut. It stays in that general musical territory but works through a number of changes and alterations throughout its duration.
 
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